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    Icewind Dale 2 Review

    Reviewed by Falcon

    System Requirements
    P2 300Mhz+
    32MB RAM
    4x CD ROM
    4MB+ 3D Accelerated Graphics Card

    Click for a larger image

    Icewind Dale 2 is the sequel to Icewind Dale, and one of several RPGs developed by Black Isle Studios following the D&D rules. The storyline follows a generation after the events in the original game, where a new threat has arisen in the northern town of Targos. A call to arms has made for all available heroes to aid against the horde of evil creatures that has been rampaging through the Ten-Towns. Your party is one such group that has come to provide aid, and the storyline begins with the group landing in the docks at the town, which has been overwhelmed by enemy forces. It is not necessary to have played Icewind Dale to play the sequel, but those who have played any of the RPG’s by Black Isle will be no strangers to the type of gameplay that awaits in ID2. The manual claims to be using a highly modified version of the “Bioware Infinity” engine - best known from its use in the Baldurs Gate series. However, from past experience with playing Baldurs Gate, the style of gameplay as well as graphics quality have both remained quite similar.
    Where the game does differ is with the introduction of a range of new mystical creatures, both good and evil, as well as new weapons and spells.
    ID2 uses the D&D 3rd Edition rules, as opposed to AD&D 2nd Edition from the past games. For many, this information will have little impact to gamers as the “dice rolls” and calculations are already calculated behind the scenes and all that is left for gamers to watch is the resulting attacks.

    Click for a larger imageAs with the predecessors to the game, individual character selection and design are available. Parties can consist of up to 6 characters that can be designed from scratch, or recruited during missions. The nature of your party will determine the ability to recruit different NPC’s as the game progresses. A new feature included in ID2 is the ability to select preset parties. These groups consist of a set of characters that have already been created, and who have their own background and history. This can be helpful to beginners to the game, who may not be familiar with the necessary character attributes to create a successful starting party.

    Making your own character varies from simple starting points as picking a race and gender, to selecting alignment and skill attributes. It is important to make these selections carefully, as they will have effects all throughout the game including variation in available character dialogue, as well as the ability to gain certain skills later in the game.

    Under each race, a sub race can be chosen. E.g. Within the elf class, there are also dark elves and half elves, each with slightly different stat bonuses and penalties.
    As well as choosing a race, a specific class can be chosen. For example, a human can select to be a barbarian, cleric, sorcerer etc. Each class has both bonuses such as increased movement speed, as well as restrictions such as not being able to choose a certain alignment (good, neutral, evil etc). Some classes may not be able to wear heavy amour, or have penalties/benefits to use a specified item or weapon.
    It is also possible to “multiclass”, i.e. after playing though to a certain level as one class, a character can start training for skills in a second class.
    Of course, as the character experience increases, additional benefits will be available to the characters including additional hitpoints more powerful spells. Additionally, all units will suffer from the effects of fatigue and require sleep in order to avoid penalties while fighting when tired, as well as to be able to memorize or “recharge” their spells.

    Click for a larger image The interface of Icewind Dale has not changed from the standard RPG format. There is diagonally overhead view of the characters, with a lower menu bar that includes game and character manipulation options. The game is mostly point and click, but not just hack and slash. There are many important considerations before entering a battle, including bonuses available for stats, such as armor class from magical and physical sources. Also the ability to use spells efficiently can easily turn a battle towards your favour. For example spells can be used to scare enemies away, or provide magical barriers against enemy attacks.

    Playing through Icewind Dale 2, you will encounter a series of monsters from simple “bad guys” to kill and gain items/experience from, as well as many Non Player Characters (NPC’s). The characters in your party can engage in dialog with these NPC’s in order to obtain information, as well as receive missions/quests. Some missions are optional and can bring in rewards, while others are essential to your journey and must be fulfilled to progress in the game.
    There is a strategy involved in the way that you decide to interact with others in the game - charisma and diplomacy attributes affect the way that NPC’s will treat your party, but just as importantly the chat options you choose from will have an effect on their responses. Even sitting down at a bar and ordering drinks may provide valuable information from a chatty bartender. Also, it is not necessary to play as a good aligned character, you can choose to be evil, but you may find that townspeople may be less welcoming, etc. Of course a sword could always be used as a means of communication…
    All in all over 100 hours of gameplay can be expected, and will vary depending on how the game is played.
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